Half a century after the release of Dr. No, director Sam Mendes and a gifted team of screenwriters have managed to give audiences a James Bond film unlike any other. Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third outing as 007, and yet the star is unafraid to show his advancing age, as we are reminded that the job of international secret agent apparently takes a heavy toll on all who dare to sign up for it.
All of you know the taxicab scene from On the Waterfront in which Marlon Brando tells Rod Steiger, “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let’s face it.” But I’d bet not many have recently seen the whole movie—and never have you seen it looking as breathtaking as it does on this Blu-ray Disc, a wondrous collaboration between Sony’s 4K digital-restoration lab and the Criterion Collection’s special-features team.
When Toy Story launched the digital animation genre in 1995, you just knew that every Hollywood studio would eventually set up its own department to cash in on the latest movie trend. Throw in vampires with the Twilight phenomenon and 3D with Avatar, and it was just a matter of time before all three concepts would be mixed together into one picture, hence we get this entertaining animated tale from Sony Pictures.
From the outside looking in, Robert Miller is living the American dream. He’s a Wall Street billionaire who lives a life of luxury, has a loving wife and family, and is financially set for life. Unfortunately for Miller, he’s living a lie, and the house of cards he’s built is about to come crashing down.
Master director Steven Spielberg has made enduring classics in horror, sci-fi, adventure, and historical drama. 2002’s Catch Me if You Can is just his second screwball comedy (the first being the box-office disaster and cult classic 1941), and even if it’s not a classic, it’s his hippest and most outrageously fun film to date. Strap yourself in for the unbelievable true story of one Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio).
In spring of 1999, while the masses were jacking into The Matrix, braver souls were leaping into the alternate gaming universe of David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ. Ostensibly, über game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is on a promotional tour with her newest game and game pod, which is an electrical organism that creates its virtual reality by plugging directly into the gamer’s nervous system via spinal cord bioport. She and her marketing man, Ted Pikul (Jude Law), come under attack and flee from realists who object to extreme gaming’s impact on humanity and its reliance on endangered mutant amphibians for gaming pods (!).
I knew Jason Bourne. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), you’re no Jason Bourne.
The first Bourne movie not based on an actual Robert Ludlum novel, Legacy gets quite a lot wrong, frankly. The story brings us back to the era of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, when extreme measures were being taken to maintain the secrecy of the covert, overly ambitious super-soldier program that created Jason. A whole new crop of men has become the subject of some risky new behavior/performance-enhancing experiments, and as one of these lethal lab rats, Aaron is desperate for answers—and the necessary meds to keep his edge—despite the nasty opponents pursuing him at every turn.
Making a living during the Great Depression carried with it certain necessities. For three orphaned brothers living in the backwoods of rural Virginia in the early 1930s, making moonshine and selling it to the locals was a very profitable but dangerous business. The fundamental rule of mob warfare applied there, too: If you want to live to enjoy the spoils, you have to have the balls and the will to do what the other guy won’t.
Released before home video could be counted on to save a studio’s bottom line on just about any flop, 1980’s Heaven’s Gate is one of the all-time box-office bombs. Back then, disasters like this took down careers, and few falls were faster or farther than director Michael Cimino’s, who made this notoriously expensive Western as his follow-up to the Oscar-winning juggernaut The Deer Hunter. His career never recovered, and Heaven’s Gate almost single-handedly ended the reign of the director within the Hollywood studio system that produced so many great auteur films in the 1970s.
Threatened with eviction from his lifelong home, Carl Fredrickson cuts loose in an unexpected way and sets off on a journey to the South American wilderness he and his late wife had long yearned to visit. Along the way, he picks up a few unwelcome (at first) fellow travelers: Russell, an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer; Kevin, a rare bird and a key plot McGuffin; and Dug, a talking dog. Carl also runs into his boyhood idol, explorer Charles Muntz, who turns out to be less of a hero than he had long imagined.
The antebellum South returned to modern screens by way of ’60s/’70s-style Blaxploitation in Quentin Tarantino’s electric Django Unchained. A surprisingly good-hearted, forward-thinking bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz, Oscar'd again here) purchases and frees the slave of the title (Jamie Foxx) in exchange for his help in tracking down three big-ticket wanted men.
The seven Harry Potter novels have sold more than 450 million copies and are the best-selling book series in history. With such a rabid and loyal fan base, it was a foregone conclusion that Hollywood would come knocking on author J.K. Rowling’s door. In 1998, Warner Bros. purchased the rights to the first two novels for more than $1 million, and director Chris Columbus had the pleasure— and challenge—of casting all the various characters who would entertain audiences for the next 10 years.
The three main characters, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, were perfectly cast with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, respectively. Audiences got to see these three kids grow up as people and actors over the years, and Warner Bros. executives were able to keep them and the rest of the all-star cast together until the final film in 2011.
Little Nemo and his dad, Marlin, are the only survivors of a barracuda attack that took his mom and not-yet-hatched siblings. On Nemo’s first day of school (fish in a school—who knew?), he swims out beyond safety and is scooped up by a scuba diver. The distraught Marlin sets out on a journey to find him. In his quest, he meets up with a memory-challenged fish, Dory; a trio of sharks in a fish-anonymous rehab group; a convoy of surfer-dude turtles; a great blue whale; and more.
Eight years have passed since the complicated events of The Dark Knight. The Batman (Christian Bale) has taken the blame for the death of district attorney Harvey Dent in an attempt to inspire the people of Gotham City to stand strong against crime. With the subsequent passage of the Dent Act, Gotham is tougher on criminals than ever, even while The Bat has disappeared, his alter ego Bruce Wayne living in self-imposed exile.
If it weren’t for the 2012 presidential election and the recent public shaming of Anthony Weiner and David Petraeus, we might have a difficult time finding any credibility in the outrageous humor of The Campaign. Scandals, corruption, lies, and character assassination: It isn’t just for breakfast anymore. It’s become part of our daily diet. Just watch CNN, for Pete’s sake.